stuffed peppers – attempt 1

I normally have my recipes fairly well vetted before writing them up, but I figured I’d do something different with this, sort of go through how I work on evolving a recipe from idea / or google search to a recipe made to my tastes. This dish started with a recommendation from my lovely wife. I asked for a bell pepper for making fajitas, and she returned with three to my surprise… with the suggestion I stuff them.  Great idea! I hadn’t made them before, but I’ve certainly had them before so I had a basic idea where to start. Make some rice, brown some beef, sauce it up a bit, top with crumbs, and bake off… So, that’s what I did. And these are my notes for future use, so I improve the recipe next time I try to make it. Please be sure to read the end note, where I make recommendations on how I think I can make this right, next time. This makes enough for two.  

two peppers
1 cup chunky tomato sauce, chopped stewed tomatoes, or similar. 
1 cup rice
2 cups stock / water
a few sun dried tomatoes
a few dried mushrooms
3/4 lb ground meat
2 green onions chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheese
Dash cumin
Dash chile powder
It’s really straight forward.  First preheat the oven.  Cut the top off the peppers, and chop up the tops, deveined and deseed the bells. Preheat the oven to 350. Then make the rice. 
To a small pot, add rice, stock, tomatoes, mushrooms, cumin, chile powder, some salt and pepper and place the lid on it. Heat till boiling, reduce heat to low, cook for 12-15 minutes until rice is cooked.
While that is cooking, brown the beef, when mostly done, add green onions, and chopped pepper. Cook till meat is finished, and peppers and onions have softened a bit. Drain off fat from meat.
Stuff peppers with a bit of rice, a spoon full of sauce, add some meat, more sauce, and top with ground meat. In the bottom of a pyrex loaf pan, mix rice, meat, and remaining sauce.  Place peppers on top, then sprinkle with shredded cheese and crumb mix.
Bake for 30 minutes till crumbs are crispy, and brown.
So… how did it turn out for a no recipe meal? and how can I improve it? The pepper it self was way under cooked. I was glad they were not limp and lifeless, but I was hoping for a more cooked pepper. The topping was excellent so I would hesitate change the baking time to cook the peppers through. After checking other recipes, it appears that most recipes would parboil them, I’m going to say, if it’s summer time, roast em on the grill at high heat, maybe broil them but only breifly, I still want the peppers to have some life left in them. I’d use a dry method, to concentrate the flavors, rather than boil them out. The second thing I’d adjust was the imbalance of meat to rice mix in the peppers when I didn’t mix the stuffing. I liked the idea of layers inside the pepper, if only to make the presentation nicer, so, next time I would mix the meat and rice, and layer the pepper with rice / meat mix and sauce. Otherwise I was pretty happy for a first attempt.  Now, I’ve got my notes, and a base recipe for next time…

Magic Mumford’s Mac and Cheese

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. This would be what I would request for my birthday meals. It is likely one of the first things I cooked on my own. I believe it’s from a paper bound edition of the betty crocker cookbook. 

Cook 1 1/2 cups macaroni (I always use pretty much a whole lb. box) in
boiling salted water till tender; drain. In saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons
butter; blend in 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and
dash pepper. Add 2 cups milk; cook and stir till thick and bubbly. Add
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (optional) and 8 ounces sharp cheddar
cheese cubed; stir till melted.
Mix cheese sauce with macaroni. Turn into casserole dish. Top with
buttered bread crumbs, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Porting my recipes.

As some of you have noticed the old recipe section on the old site is down.  I’m working on porting those recipes to the blog, so if you happen to see a flood of new post and rss updates, I’m sorry. Even though I’ll backdated these, they seem to update the rss feed.  Maybe it’s bad rss form, or bad reader form, or just plain bad to backdate.  Either way you should be seeing quite a few entrys scroll across your reader.  As a side note, you’ll also now be able to find them by clicking on the Recipe Link in the nav bar or the Recipe tag on the left. I’ve made the link in the nav bar to the recipe ‘category’ because it looks cleaner, but the tag link has an interesting interface, so your feedback would be appreciated on which one you prefer. 

In other news I just received my accusharp knife sharpener. While it took forever (nearly a month) to get from amazon (super cheap shipping). It works reasonably well, sharpening my quite dull knives but I still think I could use a professional sharpening, an electric sharpening machine, or some whet stones to remove some of the bigger dings from my knives, and have a longer lasting edge. It’s rated quite highly in the cooks illustrated knife sharpener review, and it’s cheap, which is why I got it. It seems to put a nice quick edge on it, but it does not seem to last, which could be my knives, or just a short coming of manual sharpeners.